3News confirmed Wednesday that Municipal Court Judge Young Min Burkett was placed on unpaid administrative leave by City Council after they discovered that she is not a U.S. citizen.
Mayor Pro-Tem Lucy Rubio read the following statement to Council Tuesday following an executive session:
"The City Council has discovered that one of its municipal court judges, Young Min Burkett, does not meet the statutory requirements for status as a municipal court judge of the U.S. citizenship and status as a qualified voter. Ms. Burkett did not make any misrepresentations in seeking appointment. Instead, the City did not ask the question in the qualification process. Therefore, Ms. Burkett has been placed on unpaid leave for a period of 90 days to give her an opportunity to obtain her U.S. citizenship. The legal department has reviewed this matter and determined the past rulings of this judge are not invalidated by this status."
Rubio said Burkett, who has been a municipal court judge since her appointment two years ago, cannot serve as judge because of the requirement of citizenship.
Mayor Elect Joe McComb believes it is a paperwork error on the City's part.
"The City made the mistake in not asking the right question," McComb said. "I don't think there's any intention by anyboyd, City or applicant, and so you make a mistake, you admit it, you move on. And that's what we're doing."
3News contacted local attorney John Bell for his opinion on whether or not the lack of citizenship would be grounds to contest any ruling Burkett has made. He said the revelation could prove problematic when it comes to challenging those rulings.
Rubio, who is chair of the Municipal Court Committee, said despite the legal department's reassurances, it could be a wait-and-see scenario.
"Someone can come back and say, 'You know what? I'm going to say I don't agree with her decision, and I'm going to challenge it,' and they have every right to challenge it," Rubio said.
3News reached out to Judge Burkett and the City's legal staff for comment but have not heard back.